Healthy Menus for Summer Cookouts

Summertime cookouts can be healthy when you serve a menu featuring lean cuts of meat, top foods with light and flavorful sauces, and serve with good-for-you salads and veggies.

  • Tex-Mex Flank Steak and Vegetables
    By Anne Cain, RD, Becky Luigart-Stayner; Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

    Tex-Mex on the Grill

    Flank steak and vegetable fajitas offer authentic flavor and cook up in minutes. Pair with Refried Beans and sliced papaya to round out your meal.

  • Grilled Jamaican Jerked Drumsticks
    By Anne Cain, RD, Photo: Ryan Benyi; Styling: Lynn Miller

    Grilled Jerk Drumsticks

    We’ve included healthier versions of classic grilled dishes, but don’t worry; they’re still full of flavor. Start off the meal with Spicy Gazpacho Shots for a fun summer appetizer. Then grill Jamaican Jerked Drumsticks to add more kick to this hot meal. Round out the meal with a Peach and Plum Crisp for a light, sweet treat.
  • Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Guava Glaze
    By Anne Cain, RD

    Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Guava Glaze

    Rubbing lean pork tenderloin with a fragrant spice mixture before grilling infuses flavor into the meat. Then, instead of a traditional barbecue sauce, brush the pork with a sweet glaze of guava paste, vinegar, and jalapeño pepper to add a tropical note to your barbecue. To carry out your island theme, serve the pork with rice and a mango salsa.
  • Grilled Tenderloin with Warm Vegetable Salad
    By Anne Cain, RD, Becky Luigart-Stayner; Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

    Sizzling Grilled Steak

    Satisfy the steak and potato crowd with this easy grilled menu that's ready in about 40 minutes. A California Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect wine to pair with the steak, and it you want to offer an easy dessert, homemade Peach Ice Cream will make everyone happy.

  • Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple-Plum Relish
    By Anne Cain, RD, Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro

    Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple-Plum Relish

    Jerk seasoning originated in the Caribbean and is used as either a marinade or rub for grilled meats. The blend of cinnamon, allspice, thyme, black pepper, and habañero pepper give the seasoning its characteristic sweet heat. The fruit relish balances the heat and is a colorful addition to the plate. Serve the pork and relish with steamed rice and fresh greens for a truly unique barbecue meal.
  • Kansas City Barbecued Chicken
    By Anne Cain, RD, Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

    Kansas City Barbecued Chicken

    Take a break from pork and sauce up some chicken with this sweet and spicy Kansas City-style sauce. This version has a nice balance of brown sugar and vinegar so the sauce isn't overwhelmingly sweet. Low-fat potato salad and crisp coleslaw make perfect accompaniments.
  • Hoisin and Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin
    By Anne Cain, RD, Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Melanie J. Clarke

    Hoisin and Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

    Pork tenderloin is the leanest and most tender cut of pork–a 3-ounce portion has about the same amount of fat as a 3-ounce skinless chicken breast. Grilling tenderloin over wood chips and basting in a sweet-and-spicy glaze puts the flavor over the top. Invite some friends over and serve the pork with Tomato Relish, Spring Giardiniera, Rosemary-Roasted Mashed Potatoes, and Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie.

  • Beer-Can Chicken with Cola Barbecue Sauce
    By Anne Cain, RD, Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

    Beer-Can Chicken with Cola Barbecue Sauce

    Cooking a chicken over a can of beer may seem kind of zany, but it really does add flavor to the chicken and helps keep it moist during grilling. To complement the hint of beer in the chicken, serve it with this unique sauce of cola, ketchup, and Worcestershire. You'll love this chicken with Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries and Fresh-From-the Garden Vegetable Salad.

  • Carolina Pulled Pork with Lexington Red Sauce
    By Anne Cain, RD, Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross

    Carolina Pulled Pork with Lexington Red Sauce

    Carolina-style barbecue features a thin, vinegar-based sauce that gives the shredded pork a tangy kick. Vinegar-based sauces are typically lower in sugar than sweet, tomato-based sauces, and here, the sauce is brushed on a bone-in pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt. Complete the menu with fresh tomato slices and grilled corn.
  • Grilled Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce
    By Anne Cain, RD, Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

    Grilled Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce

    Fans of white barbecue sauce love its tangy creaminess with just the right kick from both black and red ground pepper. This sauce is low in fat because it uses reduced-calorie mayonnaise, vinegar, and a splash of lemon juice. Create a hearty backyard menu by adding potato salad, a fresh lima bean-corn salad, and homemade ice cream.
  • Flank Steak With Radish Salsa
    By Anne Cain, RD, Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey

    Flank Steak With Radish Salsa

    This lightened menu includes grilled favorites like flank steak and veggies in a balsamic mixture. Serve flank steak with a radish salsa on top of grilled Italian-Herb Bread for a filling meal. Round out the meal with slightly sweet tea and grilled banana splits for those with a sweet tooth.
  • Grilled Chicken and Tapenade Sandwiches
    By Anne Cain, RD, Randy Mayor

    Chicken Sandwiches

    In less than 40 minutes, you can grill up sandwiches and vegetable skewers for a light afternoon lunch. The Grilled Chicken and Tapenade Sandwiches are full of flavor from the olive- and tomato-topping and feta cheese. Brush the grilled veggie skewers with balsamic vinegar before serving. For a refreshing dessert, serve cubed cantaloupe drizzled with Port. Your guests will love this meal on a warm summer day.
  • Hickory-grilled Fish Tacos with Mango-Avocado Relish
    By Anne Cain, RD

    Hickory-grilled Fish Tacos with Mango-Avocado Relish

    Tacos guarantee a fun meal when paired with margarita granitas. The mango-avocado relish is a tropical and flavorful accompaniment, and the Onion-Cheese Dip can be served as an appetizer or with tacos.
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